Academics and shipbuilders called on the government to establish a dedicated cross-department task force to ensure the nation’s efforts to build submarines and combat ships prioritizes domestic resources as well as fostering local professionals and workers.
The suggestions were made on Friday at a public hearing at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
Tsai Tsung-liang (蔡宗亮), a professor at National Taiwan University’s Yen Tjing Ling Industrial Research Institute, said the government should not focus solely on the national defense side of the ships project, but be aware of how the industry is linked to others.
Citing the “Ten Major Infrastructure Projects” (十大建設) implemented by former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) as an example, Tsai said the effects of the project are still extant today and the government should consider how the project would affect long-term economic development.
The shipbuilding project faces challenges, but such challenges could be greatly mitigated if the government made plans in advance and established specific task forces to coordinate matters, Tsai said, adding that a lack of immediate funding could be resolved through incremental injections.
Preparatory work for the project, such as establishing contracts with companies for materials and producing detailed designs, should come first, Tsai said, adding that the government should not rush the project.
Ship and Ocean Industries Research and Development Center chief executive Ko Yung-tse (柯永澤) said maintaining an autonomous national defense and economic development would be primary difficulties for the project, adding that the nation’s shipbuilding industry was also short on personnel with the required skill sets or knowledge.
“It is possible that the shipbuilding sector is not going to be able to provide the personnel required, so the government needs to come up with a solution,” Ko said.
Ministry of National Defense official Liu Ching-chung (劉靖中) said the ministry estimates that the majority of the needed equipment could be provided domestically and through foreign channels.
The nation hopes to make improvements to several types of key equipment and technologies based on Taiwan’s current shipbuilding capabilities, which would serve to create a foundation for its industry to eventually produce its own combat ships.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lai Jui-lung (賴瑞隆) said the Executive Yuan should establish a task force and look into how to increase the number of the nation’s shipbuilding experts.
The ministry and the Coast Guard Administration should also prioritize arms deals with domestic shipyards once Taiwan has achieved manufacturing capabilities, Lai said.